Our Classroom Environment: A Healthier Philosophy

I recently completed a class called Beyond Discipline about classroom management, so I am introducing a healthier philosophy into our classroom!

Instead of "managing" class by telling you my expectations and asking you to promise to meet them, I am going to share some of my goals and vision for our health classroom.  Hopefully you will agree with many of these ideas, but there is certainly room for discussion and disagreement.  Below is my new (and I think, healthier) philosophy for our classroom environment.

RESPECT:  This is as close as I'm going to get to giving you a "rule."  I don't want you to be respectful because it is a rule, but respect will be a baseline for all of our interactions.  As humans, I believe our true nature is to respect ourselves and others.

SAFETY: It is a basic right of all kids in this classroom to feel safe. Often I will ask you, "What can we do to make this a safer environment?"  When I ask that question, I am referring to emotional safety just as much or more than physical safety.  To be an emotionally safe classroom, each of us should feel confident that we are not going to be teased or bullied.  In an emotionally safe classroom, everyone feels valued and has a voice.

COLLABORATION and COMMUNITY:  In this classroom, we will work as a community.  Again, this means that we all have a voice.  If things come up that threaten our ability to collaborate and work together, we will discuss them as a class community.

TRUST and OWNERSHIP:  I will not refer to this as "my classroom."  I will trust you to respect the learning objectives, and I will trust you to respect others.  We share ownership for this classroom, and we can discuss and keep in mind the responsibility and freedom that gives all of us!  If I hesitate, feel free to remind me that I can trust you.  If something happens to damage that trust, we will work together to gain it back.  I am also asking you to trust me! 

RISK and CREATIVITY:  In this classroom, you are allowed and encouraged to take risks (as long as they aren't physically dangerous to yourself or others).  Creativity will be encouraged, and you will always be able to redo assignments or provide suggestions.

CHOICE and LIFELONG LEARNING: You will have choice in a lot of assignments and activities just as you have choices in life.  However, we need to have respect for our learning objectives and the reason that we're here in this classroom.  I will always work with you to help you find something that is engaging, interesting to you, and still meets the learning objectives.  However, there are school and community values we will also have to keep in mind.  Our classroom community supports lifelong learning, not just learning today, which is why I am providing you with such a vast amount of choices.

FLEXIBILITY:  This transition will be a challenge for many of us, and some of these philosophies will definitely need to be changed.  Kindness and flexibility will be very helpful to all of us in this classroom.  As we decide how we would like our classroom to run, which learning activities we will pursue for our units ahead, and how we will handle situations, all of us will need to be flexible and understanding.

I'm looking forward to a great year!  Please feel free to talk with me at any time with comments, concerns, or questions about these philosophies!  We will also routinely discuss them as a class.  Thank you!

                                                                 Ms. Kiefner

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